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George R. Lunn Testimony to N Y Assembly Judiciary Committee (January 28, 1920)

Author: George R. Lunn (1873-1948)
Keywords: Socialism -- United States; Marxism -- United States; Socialism -- New York; socialism; socialist; Marxism; communism; Thaddeus Sweet; New York Legislative Assembly; Red Scare; Socialist Assemblymen; Louis Waldman; August Claessens; Samuel A. DeWitt; Samuel Orr; Charles Solomon
Language: English
Collection: opensource


"Testimony to the Special Investigative Committee of the New York State Assembly by George R. Lunn, Jan. 28, 1920."

While the 1920 exclusion of 5 Socialist Assemblymen by the New York State Legislature was a prominent and well-remembered event of the First Red Scare in America, the rationale behind this draconian action has been little explored. This section from the voluminous published stenogram of the New York Assembly's Judiciary Committee illustrates the main pretext for exclusion of the elected assemblymen: fear of external control through the mechanism of the signed "blank resignations" which all officials elected under the Socialist Party banner were constitutionally mandated to supply. In this way, Socialists believed, elected officials would remain under party discipline and held to the promises and policy of the party platform. Those favoring Socialist exclusion believed this to be a mechanism for foreign or domestic alien control of legislative action.

George R. Lunn, first elected Mayor of Schenectady, New York as a Socialist in November 1911, was one official pressured to sign a "blank resignation." Lunn took umbrage at the requirement and refused to sign in his 1913 re-election campaign, in which he was defeated, or in 1915, in which he was elected again. In 1917, Lunn was elected to Congress as a Democrat, before being re-elected Mayor of Schenectady in 1919. Called as a witness by the "prosecution" seeking exclusion of the Socialist Assemblymen, Lunn details matters of Schenectady Socialist politics and his objections to "blank resignations."

Seymour Stedman handled the task of cross-examination for the Socialist "defendants," emphasizing the actual similarity in practice of the written control mechanism and pressures exerted by the Socialist Party with the informal backroom control historically exerted by the Republicans and Democrats.

Published in "State of New York, Proceedings of the Judiciary Committee of the Assembly in the Matter of the Investigation by the Assembly of the State of New York as to the Qualifications of Louis Waldman, August Claessens, Samuel A. DeWitt, Samuel Orr, and Charles Solomon, to Retain Their Seats in Said Body: Volume 1." Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon Co., Printers, 1920; pp. 352-366.

Published in the USA prior to 1923, public domain.

This edition edited by Tim Davenport for 1000 Flowers Publishing, Corvallis, OR, February 2012.

Uploaded by him to Archive.org on February 5, 2012.

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Licenseurl: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/
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